BROOKSVILLE — A draft list of projects that could be paid for by Hernando County's proposed sales tax increase includes several big-ticket road improvements and more than a half-dozen other projects intended to benefit schools.
The list, released Wednesday by the Hernando County School District, comes as county officials and business leaders are trying to persuade School Board members to partner with them on pitching a new penny sales tax to voters instead of only trying to renew the School Board's current half-cent share of the sales tax.
The big question to be addressed at Tuesday's School Board workshop: Will School Board members go for such an option?
"The issue is really … is it a risk for the board to partner in this endeavor?" said school superintendent Lori Romano. "That's a decision that has to be made."
During their last workshop discussion, School Board members made it clear they wanted the county to help schools with some portion of its half-cent if the school district agreed to combine the two sales tax issues into one question on the November ballot. District officials want to spend their half-cent of tax on urgent school maintenance projects and on technology.
The County Commission has already voted unanimously to move toward the combined penny sales tax push to voters.
Commissioner Nick Nicholson, who has pushed for the county's projects to be much-needed road projects, said Wednesday that he has reconsidered and now believes it is also important to provide sidewalks and other amenities that improve safety for students.
Commissioners Diane Rowden and Dave Russell also support including school projects. Russell said he wants to know more about how projects were selected, and he wants the county to make sure to stretch the dollars as far as possible by also using state and federal road funds where necessary.
School Board members contacted Wednesday said they had not seen the list and could not comment.
The main county road projects are widening parts of Barclay Avenue at a cost of $20 million, adding two lanes to a stretch of Powell Road, which would cost $13.6 million, and a frontage road and intersection improvements at Cortez and Mariner boulevards for $13.4 million.
Sidewalk projects are listed for Explorer K-8, J.D. Floyd and Westside schools and on Sunshine Grove Road and near Quality Drive and Medical Boulevard. A three-lane highway expansion, including sidewalks and a school beacon, is listed for Deltona Boulevard. A student pick-up parking area at J.D. Floyd and a pedestrian crossing for Springstead High School at Mariner Boulevard are also on the list.
Brooksville would also share in the county's portion of the sales tax, and officials have earmarked Brooksville road projects that have been on the books for several years for funding.
Those include improvements to south Main Street to create a mixed-use area that would serve as a primary corridor into the city's south end and construction of a two-lane connector road along Providence Boulevard.
Staff writers Danny Valentine and Logan Neill contributed to this report. Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434. Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432.